Business travel is completely different from personal travel. Yeah, it is paid for by someone else, but that means someone else owns your time.
Fortunately I work with awesome people and do manage to get a bit of free time, but still, it is business travel.
While packing this afternoon I realized I’ve learned a lot from my year of traveling – most of it from making mistakes. Hopefully, this list will help you avoid a few of my mistakes.
1. Always check the weather
Always plan for the worst weather conditions. I’m the proud owner of a new jacket (Denver), gloves (Chicago), umbrella (Nashville) and hat (Boston) and if I had time to shop, shorts while in San Antonio.
I always check the weather, but for some reason still pack the wrong stuff. Just assume the worst and plan accordingly.
2. Pack light
I know this contradicts my first point, but you can still pack light and be prepared. The trick is to plan everything out in advance.
Prior to packing I review my schedule and plan out my business and casual outfits. Remember, black is your new best friend. It goes with everything (plus is very slimming). I pick shirts that are multi-purpose and go with a variety of dress pant and jeans.
I always include a basic black dress jacket that can be worn over anything to dress up an outfit.
Although I love skirts and dresses, my top priority when traveling is comfortable shoes, which means I stick with dress pants. I want shoes that can be worn all day without blisters. I limit my shoe selection to two options – brown and black. If I have room I throw in a pair of running shoes.
Wear your heavier/bulkier clothing on the plane. This will keep you warmer and give you more clothing options.
3. Cords & Chargers & Batteries
I forgot all my chargers when I went to Denver. As in every single charger! That means no cell phone, no computer, no Ipad, no wireless hotspot. Fortunately, my SLR Camera batteries were charged or I probably would have cried.
Plan out your electronic needs and make sure you have all of the appropriate gear.
I had my cords/chargers piled up next to my backpack, but was rushing around in the morning and left them (and my jacket) sitting on the floor.
Which brings me to my next point.
4. Pack everything in advance
In the case of my infamous (to me anyway) Denver trip, I broke this rule. Typically I start packing 2-3 days prior to my trip.
Always ask yourself what items will be difficult to locate on-site? This could include medicine and other specialized items. If you are on a tight schedule spending time searching for medicine isn’t fun.
I do my shopping and laundry, and then plan out my activities and wardrobe choices. My final packing is done the night before my trip and my goal is to have everything packed and ready to go.
No throwing in last minute items.
5. Plan for lost luggage
I’ve only experienced this once, but Aaron had it happen on one of his trips to China. He spent two days in China without luggage. Miserable!
If possible stick with carry-on luggage. Unfortunately, I’ve usually got extra work stuff and am stuck with a larger suitcase, but whenever possible limit myself to a smaller bag.
I don’t travel in business clothing, but I always wear a nice outfit that can cross over if needed. If I’m unable to do carry on luggage, I always keep my jewelry, electronic gear and any other valuables with me.
6. Arrive early
The extra sleeping time is not worth the hassle that comes from missing your flight. Just so you know, you can’t check in luggage 42 minutes before your flight (missed my Boston Flight). You have to be at least 45 minutes early to check luggage.
I’ve also learned that hard way that getting through security can take more than 30 minutes. These days, my goal is to arrive at least 1½ hours early. Is it usually overkill – yes, but the peace of mind makes it worthwhile.
Traveling is stressful enough without compounding the negativity with poor planning. Why not take the time to plan prior to your trip, so you have time to enjoy yourself on your trip.
Please comment below if you have any other mistakes to avoid while traveling.